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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  September 7, 2015 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. on the newshour tonight: european countries pledge to take in those fleeing war and poverty. the challenges of food, shelter and making a new nation home. >> the generosity that's been seen from the european public is extraordinary. they're ahead of the politicians who quite often are fearful of the right wing or the cost, the budget implications of bringing in migrants and refugees. >> woodruff: also ahead on this labor day monday, a look at the fight over raising the minimum wage. what $15 an hour means for workers and business. plus... >> a shutdown would be completely irresponsible. it'd be an unforced error.
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>> woodruff: president obama warns republicans of a government shutdown, and rails against g.o.p. presidential candidates' war against unions. the week ahead in politics with amy walter and tamara keith. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: there was renewed trouble today as countries across europe tried to cope with the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees. hundreds of people broke through hungarian police lines near the serbian border, and marched north on the main highway to budapest. the refugees outnumbered police,
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who used pepper spray to try to maintain order. some 340,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the 28-nation european union already this year. the developments come as all of europe debates how to handle the new wave of refugees. german chancellor angela merkel said all e.u. countries should pitch in. but hungary's prime minister, viktor orban, questioned a proposed quota system. meanwhile, french president francois hollande pledged to take 24,000 refugees over the next two years. and british prime minister david cameron said britain will expand its refugee program, and re- settle up to 20,000 syrians over the next five years. >> britain should fulfill its moral responsibility to help those refugees, just as we've done so proudly throughout our history. but in doing so we must use our head and our heart by pursuing a comprehensive approach that tackles the causes of the
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problem as well as the consequences. that means helping to stabilize countries where the refugees are coming from. >> woodruff: a u.n. official estimated that as many as 4 million syrian refugees will now try and head to europe, unless the world helps syria's neighbors, lebanon, jordan and turkey, offset costs. president obama used this labor day holiday to require federal contractors to give paid sick leave to their employees. the white house estimates the executive order will benefit some 300,000 workers. the president said the policies also benefit employers by improving retention and recruitment. the defense minister of iraq narrowly escaped being hit by a sniper outside baghdad today. islamic state gunmen targeted his convoy as it traveled near islamic state controlled territory. one guard was wounded in the attack. meanwhile, in syria, human
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rights activists reported that islamic state militants have taken control of another oil field, this one at jazal in the central province of homs. in guatemala, there'll be a run- off presidential election after candidates split yesterday's vote. it comes just after the resignation of the country's leader, amid a corruption scandal. ballot counting went on overnight, and showed a wealthy businessman and a former first lady both trailing former tv comic jimmy morales, who's never held political office. >> ( translated ): we are part of the dissatisfied population that does not want more of the same, of course. our proposal has come to be understood and our proposal is reduced into one sentence: a healthy and educated population thrives. >> woodruff: the top two finishers will advance to the run-off election, set for october 25. in economic news, chinese stocks were down today, even after the head of china's central bank
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said his country's market turmoil appears to be coming to an end. but that assurance did calm investor jitters in europe as markets there managed modest gains. still, trading was lighter than usual with wall street closed on account of the labor day holiday. harvard law professor lawrence lessig has become the sixth democrat to enter the race for the white house. the 54-year-old south dakota native made the announcement yesterday in an interview with abc, after his presidential exploratory committee raised $1 million dollars. lessig has pledged to make campaign finance reform and voting rights issues top priorities. and, scientists in britain announced today they believe they've found an even bigger prehistoric monument near the ruins of stonehenge, but it's underground. university of bradford researchers used remote sensor technology to find about 100 stones toppled in the shape of a large arena. some of them would have stood
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more than 15 feet high when they were built around 4,500 years ago. the site is about two miles from stonehenge. still to come on the newshour: pledges to provide sanctuary for more migrants in europe. debating raises to the minimum wage. and much more. >> woodruff: we return now to the migrant and refugee crisis in europe. joining me to discuss the latest developments and what they mean as the continent grapples for a solution is leonard doyle of the international organization for migration. leonard doyle, welcome. so now, as we see, more and more countries offering to take in tens of thousands of these
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migrants, is that going to be sufficient to accommodate all of them? >> we'll have to wait and see. first of all, thank you so much for having me on. the generosity seen from the european public is extraordinary. we're seeing they're ahead of the politicians who quite often are fearful of the right wing or the cost, the budget implications of bringing in the migrants or refugees. it's going to bring a tidal wave from sir. i can't there are a million displaced people and word is out they're welcomed in europe. >> woodruff: just the idea they're accepting them sends a signal it's okay for more to come. >> indeed, and this has been the fear of politicians, the factor that if you open the doors too wide and give too much of a wedge, you will encourage more and more to come. it's price they're paying for the lack of decisions, the lack
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of policy and a system to bring people in in an orderly and managed way. because it's so chaotic, you see people coming across and drowning like the young syrian boy who moved international hearts and minds so much over the past couple of days. >> woodruff: we know, leonard doyle, many of the migrants and refugees already left syria afghanistan, other places, the african continent, to go to other countries in the region. turkey, jordan, lebanon, for example. why is it not sufficient for them to stay in some of these countries that are closer to home? >> well, it's a good question. i think if they had any confidence that syria was any day soon going to return to stability, they would probably stay because, you know, it's refugees, displaced people don't like leaving home. they've got very good bonds of kinship and bonds to their country, they don't want the to leave that behind, but i think
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the despair is what's happening in syria, the lack of any political solution, means they're moving on. and who would want to stay in a camp in jordan, how far safe it may be? these are people with kids, who want to get an education for them and move on in life. they want a proper security for their future, no matter how unsafe they are. this is the proper indictment to have the international community for not sorting out the problems of syria to ensure that innocent people are not suffering. >> woodruff: why don't we see countries like saudi arabia, the u.a.e., bahrain, qatar, taking in refugees? what's going on there? >> that's a good question. a lot of criticism has been pointed at the gulf states, but some is misplaced. may have paid inordinate amounts of money to the cause of iraq and indeed syria and have taken in vast numbers of people. the key is they're not offering
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them citizenship or asylum status. refugees know what they want, and they want a secure place to be in the future. so i think they're voting with their feet going in elsewhere, though it's culturally different for them perhaps. it's an indictment to have the welcome they're getting from the united arab states and it's been a wakeup call for them, too. >> woodruff: does it matter how we refer to these people, who we call them migrants or refugees? how do you see that? >> it is, indeed, important. you have the refugees who are a specific category, those fleeing war or human rights abuses and are entitled to asylum under international law, the gee neva convention. it's an international compact. the if everyone is called a refugee, governments will be reluctant to extend that, as they should.
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so the broad number is migrants moving whether for human rights or economic improvement. they could also be people who were sex trafficking, labor traffic or unaccompanied minors, children. so it's important that the very specific category will be protection. >> woodruff: do you have a good sense of what kinds of services they will be provided once they arrive in these destination countries, whether germany or france or the u.k. or someplace else? what are they getting when they get there? >> well, i think one thing that's happened is these countries have been shamed into opening their doors and providing proper care and assistance for them, whereas they may have been trying to cut down for budgetary reasons, the public opinion says it's not good enough. now they may expected to be housed properly, they may be in barracks, but they will be fed and clothed and given integration packages to help them learn about the country
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they're in. language courses, caring for children. many need psychosocial help. they've had horrific experience where is they came from. those who make it into the european union are lucky. those who perhaps stay in the refugee camps in jordan and turkey, maybe not so lucky. >> woodruff: for people who want to help, what can they do, whether in the united states or somewhere else? >> there are many ways people can extend their generosity. one way is to donate. our organization has a web site and there are many others where we encourage people to contribute because it makes a big difference. looking after one refugee family is costly, one migrant family equally. it's not easy. if you can't help them directly, let's help them indirectly. to see innocent people suffering in this way is shocking in the extreme. >> woodruff: leonard doyle of
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the international organization for migration, we thank you. >> thank you very much, judy, for having me on. >> woodruff: it was just three years ago when more than 100 fast food workers in new york city first began walking off the job to demand higher wages and better working conditions. now, a $15-an-hour minimum wage is becoming a reality for many low-wage workers across the country. jeffrey brown has our labor day look. >> brown: this summer has been a big one for the movement. los angeles officials agreed to raise minimum-wage from $9 an hour to $15. mayors of eight other cities including san joseeé are going o resume a similar plan and new york is $15 for all fast food workers. $15 has been signed into law in other cities including seattle with wages liked gradually
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depending on the city green 2017 and 2021. we look at the movement's success and questions about impact. robert reich, professor at university of california, berkley, former labor secretary under president clinton. he wrote "saving capitalism for the many not the few." and michael r. strain is an economist who studies labor market and wages, a scholar at the american enterprise institute. welcome both of you. we start with you. overview. is it fair to see if movement as taking hold and why do you think it picked up so much momentum? >> i think it is taking hold. i think it's picked up momentum because, for one thing, the minimum-wage in real terms adjusted for inflation keeps on dropping. if we had the same minimum-wage as in 1968, adjusted for inflation, it would be over $10 today. i think a lot of people who are middle class, lower middle class and poor are just saying, look,
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this is just simply unfair and, finally, a lot of middle class people are saying, we'll pay more and more taxes to keep working people out of poverty, which is effectively a subsidy to all these low-wage employers and that's not fair either. >> brown: michael r. strain, how do you assess the movement? >> i think the movement is strong and growing stronger and by their metric system, they have victories. if we raise minimum-wage to $15 an hour in the city, it will create winners and losers. in my judgment, there will be more losers than winners. i think it's a very risky strategy. but i certainly understand what's motivating the workers and organizers, and i admire the goal which is to help the working poor and working class americans. >> brown: is there evidence enough yet to support the losers' proposition you're making? do you see things or are you
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just speculating? >> this is all new. >> brown: yes. and there have been anecdotal pieces of evidence you've seen in the newspaper. it's much too early for any sort of systematic economic study of the effects of this, so we're all kind of flying blind, which i think interests the riskiness of the strategy and makes it less wise than if we had quite a bit of evidence about it. >> brown: there are still questions about what kind of countereffects one might see and at what point it might kick in if you move very fast and very far. what do you see so far? >> there's a lot of research around the country that has compared states where you have the federal minimum-wage, $7.25, two states that have put their minimum-wage above the federal level and that's permissible under federal law, comparing on both sides of border to what's happened to labor. they found in states that raised minimum wage there is no negative job effect, no indplees
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unemployment, probably for two reasons, one, because if you give people more money, they will spend it, and that creates jobs in that local labor market and, secondly, because a lot of people are attracted into the labor market, it might not other wise look for a job when minimum wages are raised, and that gives employers more choice of whom to mire -- hire, meaning less turnover, more employability and employers save money. >> brown: what's the down side, michael? >> i think secretary reich is crerkts some studies show not strong job loss, some show there are job losses. the budget office thinks if we raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, there will be hundreds of thousands fewer jobs. so i don't think the debate is settled on this. i'm worried about the magnitude of the increase. this minimum wage increase, $15 an hour in big cities will
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go very high up the wage distribution, will cover a quarter, a third of workers in the cities, that is something to be concerned about. >> brown: do you think it has a different impact on different wage inners? >> i think so. i think the existing evidence have modest increases in the minimum wage and looks at a broad class of workers going from, you know, $9 an hour, whatever it is in the states, to $15, is not a modest increase. in addition, doing this only for a city causes potential problems as well because it puts workers in that city at a comparative disadvantage to a very nearby suburb and they'll si suburban businesses grow and low-wage workers living inside the city limits being at a significant disadvantage. >> brown: that's one i've heard and we've heard over the last couple of years the differentials it creates even in a particular region. what's your response to that? >> well, it would be better for
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the entire federal minimum wage to be raised across the country much higher than now and still allow states to raise their own minimum wages, and i think michael has a good point about the possibility of job loss. we just don't know. most of the places that have increased their minimum wage are phasing them in, not doing it suddenly overnight. we also have an ethical issue here. even if there are job losses, we, you know, as a society, we've established minimum levels of decency. we don't have child labor. we require employers to provide safe workplaces even though that increases dramatically in some cases the cost of labor. we simply don't say the market is going to define everything about the way we work. so decency, morality, kind of ethical considerations do play a part here. >> brown: we ask you both,
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michael r. strain, the larger context is the wage growth remains so flat. why? >> well, i think that's a complicated question. >> brown: of course, it is. i know it's a hard question, but one we have been asking for several years. >> i subscribe to the simple answer that we got hit very hard in the great recession and that we're still suffering from a loss of demand and that when demand comes back and business will be faced with the need to compete harder to attract workers and to retain workers and that's going to cause wages to go up and i think we're just not there yet. >> brown: robert reich, what's your answer to the hard question? >> i would say it's just not the great recession. go back to 1978, '79, wages began to flatten and diverge from gains, and the typical wage earner has had almost no increase in wage is a justed for inflation since the late
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1970s. i think the reason companies pushed beiges down using outsourcing, globalization, substituting technology tore workers and basically busting unions, all of that has generated lower wages. >> brown: you have a quick last word since he started, michael strain. >> i completely agree this is a moral issue, and the goal of helping low-wage, minimum-wage workers is a very good goal and policy should be used, not just markets. i think there are better alternatives to minimum wage. the earned income tax cruet puts money directly in the workers pockets. it actually brings people into jobs. i think it's a much superior tool. we don't disagree on the goal. we disagree on the means to get there and i think there are much better policy tools than the minimum wage. >> brown: we'll leave it there. thank you very much michael r. strain and robert reich.
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>> thank you, jeff. very much. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: the week ahead in politics with amy walter and tamara keith. how denmark is leading the way in wind energy. and, innovative thinkers in tech and the arts bringing new ideas to the public. but first, as we have been reporting, thousands of syrian refugees and others arrived in germany over the weekend, sometimes to cheering crowds. tonight, we take a look at what it's like after the fanfare fades. matt frei of independent television news filed this report from berlin. >> reporter: on a hot, late summer's day, a walk in the park reveals something unexpected. at first you might think schussers of people in the shade on the grass are here for a
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picnic. but then you notice their luggage, and their children. and their despair. the numbing fatigue of ordinary families to be extraordinary has become the normal. most people here are sillian refugees. the last time they slept in their own beds could be a year ago, perhaps two years ago. but for now this is the end of their odyssey from syria by turkey, greece, bulgaria, hungary and austria, to a country in europe more willing to take them than any other. syrians are at the top of the pecking order, virtually guaranteed asylum. if you're from gaza, you have been waiting eight days for your papers, you get a little nervous like mohamed. >> hopefully this will be my new home. > >> reporter: you're not sure?
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no, i'm not sure. >> reporter: until you have your papers? >> hopefully. >> reporter: you will get them. and why do you choose germany and not sweden or britain? >> actually, germany, the education is good. i got my education from germany before i came here. but i could not -- >> reporter: after the refugees come the refugee beau rock circumstances the wait for papers, accommodation and emergency money of 200 pounds a month per family. and then the matter of food, courtesy of the soup and sandwich brigade, all volunteers. 5-year-old hasan tries to get
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his hands on soup and bread. this time he's lucky. then he hands the bread to his mother. by the end of the day, the food distribution is more chaotic. in fact, they're overwhelmed by the numbers and can barely cope. most of the work is done by volunteers. second from the left is a single mother of two and currently unemployed and opposite her is a retired bank manager with a few languages up his sleeve.
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you're here helping out? >> i'm here helping out. yes. i'm happy with this job. it's not paid, but i'm quite happy. >> reporter: germany is taking in 1% of its population, 800,000 people this year for asylum. it's a huge number. >> it's a huge number, but as it comes to faces, when you see the people actually, i think we have a duty at least to help. >> reporter: are you motivated by some collective historical guilt about what germany did to the rest of europe in the past? >> yes, i think so. i was born in '63, in west germany. so it's kind of guilt, but not only guilt, it is to do something better.
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>> reporter: after the exchange, find a place to stay. as night falls, the makeshift camp empties out and there is a scramble. as a refugee, you're always rushing from one bare necessity to the next. families, women and children, get put on buses to army barracks or schools turned refugee centers. but the men tend to be left on the stoop. unless they find a volunteer host like this man and his family, one who put hundreds of people up. we joined them for breakfast. their 2-year-old son, mother is pregnant with number two, and their syrian house guests fleeing i.s.i.s. the family doesn't speak arab or kurdish, and the guests continue speak english or german, so table talk is a little complicated.
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>> six? 35. ah, 35. 26. 5. >> reporter: so here you have a little google history of the table talk. the german word for pregnant pops up, black tea, welcome to germany. what do you say to those people who say, i don't want to have foreigners in my house, i don't know who they are? >> anger and hate leads to suffering. there is nothing to be afraid of, seriously. >> reporter: this man would beg to dimplet those who don't love germany should leave germany, they shout. this is a march organized by the m.p.d. they scored 8.3% of the vote in the last election.
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(speaking german) >> reporter: whoever makes it to germany can stay forever. are we living in a madhouse? the leader of the national democratic party asks. the party couched hatred of foreigners in islamic antisemitism even though that's precisely what some of the refugees are fleeing. other side of the road, pro refugees shout in english. germany has been more welcoming and tolerant overrefugees than any other country in europe. the rest of countries are being shamed into sharing the burden. this country knows more than any other about intolerance and where all this could lead.
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>> woodruff: next, while many americans enjoyed a day off today, those eyeing the white house or already working there, took the chance to speak to voters. it's a holiday that historically kicked off the race for the white house in the year before the election. but this labor day, with almost two-dozen candidates already running hard, it was another day on the trail. republican scott walker, who gained national headlines a few years ago by taking on organized labor as governor of wisconsin, took to twitter to stand out from the pack, writing: "in wisconsin, people have the freedom to choose if they want to be in a labor union or not. that's pro-worker! president obama's not running. but he fired back, without naming them, at walker and new jersey governor chris christie. at a boston rally, he took some of his most direct swipes yet at the republican field.
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>> one candidate, he is bragging about how he destroyed collective bargaining right in his state, and says that busting unions prepares him to fight isil. and then there was the guy, these guys are running for office, who said a union deserves a punch in the face. >> woodruff: vice president biden, who's deciding whether to run, echoed the democrats' rallying call to organized labor and the issue of income inequality. >> back in the '70s, when you were getting started in the steel mills, the situation was the c.e.o. made on average 25-26 times the average employee. now they make 400 times as much. what happened? what happened? >> woodruff: other republican candidates were out on the trail. but donald trump, whose leading
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national polls, didn't have any public events. as we enter this next phase of the 2016 campaign, it's a particularly good monday for politics monday. joining me are tamara keith of npr and amy walter of the "cook political report." welcome and thank you for being here on labor day. >> yes. >> woodruff: so we have been reporting and i know you've seen it as well on this refugee crisis in europe. we talked about how more european countries are offering to take in refugees. in the last hour or so, we understand the white house is now telling reporters they are looking seriously at what the united states can do. what are you hearing about that? >> an administration official confirmed they are considering a wide range of options in responding to the refugee crisis including possible refugee resettlement, and i e-mailed back and said, in the u.s.? and they said, yes. so that is a change. that is a response that is
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clearly not fully defined yet, but they're working on it and want people to know they're working on it. >it. >> woodruff: the u.s. already spent $4 billion a year in syria so i guess they're looking at spending more money. amy, do you see this becoming an issue? there is talk about whether congress will look at this when they come back in town. >> the administration is saying we're looking at brig syrian refugees in the country, i think it absolutely will be an issue and the republicans are taking it up as a security issue and the concern is being raised by many of the 2016 candidates is that a syrian refugee may be a terrorist. we may, by letting all these people in, be letting elements in that are dangerous to the u.s., how can you screen them properly, so that will be brought up absolutely on the campaign trail and in congress. >> woodruff: do we see a difference? we know a couple of the republicans, tamara, even donald
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trump, even with his tough position on the border, on immigration said, you know, possibly the u.s. may have to take some in. >> i think that is basically all he has said thus far. it hasn't been a detailed policy description. john kasich also said possibly more money could be sent to help with the crisis. then otherwise, the candidates, largely the republican candidates, have largely been saying this is a european problem and trying to push it off and make at it a european problem. >> woodruff: but the democrats are saying we'll do what we have to do. >> martin o'malley said he thinks the u.s. needs to dramatically increase the number of syrian refugees coming into the country in the coming year. >> to be clear, everyone's very vague. no one wants to step out on this besides the martin o'malley number. even hillary clinton wasn't being very specific about it. >> woodruff: i did notice
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that. so it is labor day and, amy, i notes you've said this is the traditional jumping off point for the campaign. we've had these men and women running for months and months, but things are going to change. >> we have been doing "politics monday" now, and there is been a lot to talk about, but believe it or not -- and i'm sorry for people who live in the early states for this -- the money has not even been beginning to be spent. we're seeing the super pacs and candidates telling us they're going to start advertising in the case and putting down in iowa, new hampshire, south carolina. we have a debate on september 16 with the republicans and democrats, september and october. there will be more money spent than up until now. >> woodruff: will advertising be the main difference?
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>> hillary clinton's campaign advertised they will be putting in $4.1 million for ads that will keep the ads on the air through september and october in new hampshire and iowa. so that is a change. they have been on the air since august, they will continue to be on the air. the ads are one thing. i think we likely will see more of the candidates, also. but it gets to be crunch time. >> hillary clinton was talking to andrea mitchell last week, is going to be on the ellen degeneres show this week, which her campaign says television is a way for her to reach a larger audience, certainly ellen degeneres has a larger audience. >> woodruff: it may reflect her need to get the message out who n a time when she's having a difficulty. the nbc poll shows she's not
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only behind bernie sanders and he's even catching up with her in iowa. what does this say? is this more about hillary clinton or bernie sanders and maybe joe biden? >> i think a combination. if you talk to the hillary clinton campaign and they said from the beginning we expect this to be close, nobody ever won on the democratic side iowa and new hampshire by a significant margin, it is usually by less than 50% of the votes, we knew the race will be tight, they said at the very beginning. we have to think about bernie sanders. the question is not how well he will do in iowa and new hampshire, the question is what happens next. where bernie sanders does well is with liberal voters and has been doing well in two states with a lot of liberal and white voters. the question for bernie sanders is can he do well among the minority voters that make up a very significant chunk of the
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democratic base? and the next polling i would like to see is from south carolina, a state that comes third in the map that has an electorate on the democratic side that's 50% or more african-american. >> reporterafrican-american. >> woodruff: tamara, will we see the contours of that before we get to the south carolina primary? >> i think we'll have a sense, once decent polling comes out, we'll have a sense of how south carolina is going. he's back in the state again. he definitely is not taking it for granted. he wants to work for it. he admits he has a great organization in iowa. an okay organization on the ground in new hampshire. he has a lot of work the do in south carolina and nevada. meanwhile, clinton's people are saying we have a 50-state strategy which they sort of do. they had people organizing on the ground in all 50 states until july. so -- but you can't account for
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momentum. or burn-mentum. bernie sanders are not saying they don't like hillary clinton. they are saying they like bernie sanders, that he's saying something that speaks to them and that can't be written off. >> woodruff: let's say something about the republicans. amy, what do you think about the president taking a shot -- he didn't name scott walker or chris christie, but -- >> there is only one name taking on the collective bargaining and unions. they wanted to make it a choice between democrats looking out for the regular people, republicans looking out for the special interests. bernie sanders will keep driving that home in. 2016, he is not on the ballot and, number two, his policies are on a ballot. this is eight years of an obama economy that the democrats will have to defend.
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i think this is good for scott walker, an opportunity for scott walker who has been having a difficult summer. his numbers dropped dramatically especially in a place like iowa, a state he needs to win. being able to be taken on by the president and using that as a badge of honor particularly helps him. >> woodruff: and raises his profile. >> yes, and he put out a statement saying the fact barack obama is coming after me means that the democrats think that i am the biggest threat. >> woodruff: well, the one man who was not out on the trail today we know for a fact was donald trump so we'll have to wait and talk about him next week. >> we'll have to see what he's doing on the stump. >> woodruff: amy walter, tamera keith, thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: denmark has been a pioneer in wind energy production. last year 40% of its electricity
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came from wind power, and by 2050, it's set an ambitious goal of having renewable energy provide 100 percent of the country's energy. the obama administration recently released the clean power plan, which it hopes will lead to more renewable energy production. stephanie joyce traveled to denmark to see how that country is tackling the challenge. she reports for "inside energy," a public media collaboration funded by the corporation for public broadcasting, focusing on america's energy issues. >> reporter: erik malmkvist's job used to be a lot easier, before renewable energy. malmkvist runs the power grid for bornholm, an island of 40,000 people off the coast of denmark. the island's electricity consumption is fairly predictable. >> you can see people get up in the morning about half past five. then they go to eat, and then they just stop.
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>> reporter: but the island's electricity supply is becoming less predictable. like most places, bornholm used to get most of its power from coal and gas, but now more than half comes from wind and solar, which fluctuate constantly. >> you can see the wind. it goes suddenly up and down all the time. >> reporter: as denmark adds more renewable energy, that mismatch between when electricity is being produced and when it's needed is a growing problem. but this sleepy fishing island is home to a cutting edge energy experiment that could make the variability of wind and solar less of a problem. bornholm has branded itself the "bright green test island," and welcomed a series of futuristic experiments focused on the electric grid. the most ambitious experiment is called ecogrid e.u.. at the demonstration house, project leader maja bendtsen shows off how it works. >> so, this is some of the equipment that we're using in the project.
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>> reporter: the ecogrid e.u. project shakes up the traditional relationship between electricity supply and demand. it gets people to use more power when there's lots available and less when there isn't. it's called demand response. bendtsen uses a lego model to help explain how demand response helps integrate wind and solar into the island's grid. it's something she learned about as a kid, when her father installed a wind turbine on their property. >> when it was windy, we turned up all the radiator valves and could heat the house. because it was windy and the wind turbine was spinning anyway, the energy was free and abundant. >> reporter: the ecogrid experiment also relies on using more power when there's cheap, renewable energy available, and less when there isn't. but unlike when bendtsen was a kid, no one has to run around opening and closing radiator
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valves. >> a signal goes through to the gateway, and then a signal to the relay saying turn off the heat pump because now the price is high and we are within boundaries. >> report: the equipment gets information about the real-time price of electricity. when it's high, the equipment turns down the heating and turns it back on again when prices drop, so long as the temperature stays within a specified range, say 70-75 degrees. >> demand response has nothing to do with energy savings. it has to do with using the energy when it's there. >> reporter: which helps with balancing the grid, if it works. kathri marlussen lives on bornholm and a participant in the project. >> you can see the energy price right now. when it's red, it's expensive. >> reporter: but although marlussen can access real-time
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electricity prices through the project, the devices controlling her heating stopped working months ago. the automation equipment still has some serious bugs. >> the idea of the project is really good. but there are some technical problems that don't allow me to use it like it's supposed to. >> reporter: marlussen sometimes checks the price before doing laundry or running the dishwasher, but those consume almost no electricity compared to heating and cooling. >> it's a shame that it can't work the way it's supposed to. >> reporter: she's not the only one who thinks so. back on the mainland, i met jorgen christensen, the chief technology office for dansk energi, the danish energy association. he agrees it's a shame demand response isn't ready for primetime. >> we are overinvesting because we are not utilizing the energy we produce in a smart way. >> reporter: overinvesting in things like transmission lines and back-up power plants, which wouldn't be necessary if demand response worked better.
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christensen is confident the technical problems with demand response will get sorted out. but he's worried that it will take time to convince people of the benefits, maybe too much time given the country's renewable energy goals. >> if i would ask my sister whether she would have flexible or smart charging of her electric vehicle or heat pump today, she would say "well, i haven't heard about it." so that's where we are there. >> reporter: on the campus of the danish technical university, researchers are tackling both the technological and the consumer side of the problem. they've been analyzing the results of the bornholm experiment, and are excited about its promise. but jacob ostergaard, who is in charge of the lab, says what they've done so far is just the beginning, and compares it to the nascent cell phone industry. >> we have developed the smartphone and one app.
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>> reporter: the app being demand response. now, in the analogy, ostergaard wants to help build other apps. to transform electricity in the same way the smartphone changed the phone. he thinks in a few years, we won't even think about electricity the same way. >> instead of buying kilowatt hours, which are very difficult to understand, we could buy comfort, for example. we could buy 21 degrees celsius in our house instead of buying kilowatt hours. >> reporter: that's a comfortable 70 degrees fahrenheit. whatever those new ways of thinking of electricity end up being, more likely than not, you'll find them on bornholm first. for the pbs newshour, i'm stephanie joyce in bornholm, denmark. >> woodruff: finally tonight,
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time for a look at some interesting reporting that's not trending. gwen ifill recently recorded our conversation. >> ifill: this week, we're looking at innovative thinkers you may not have heard of who are using advances in technology and science to chart important new paths, including an effort to create a boy yonk brain, a battery made partially out of saltwater and a choreographer attracting ballet dancers by youtube. carlos watson joins me. all the tech all the time. >> why not? you told me basketball and football was off the table, so let's go tech. >> ifill: let's talk about the idea of creating working electronic model of the brain. >> it would be really interesting, would allow researchers to do all kinds of things to pursue cures for alzheimer's and other things instead of using mice brains, if
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you had a well-simulated electronic brain. they're making progress. >> ifill: what does it mean? how would it work? exactly what would we be talking about? an actual model you plug in? >> all kinds of forms it could take. it could live on a chip inside something that looks a little more friendly. you know what was interesting, one of the researchers in manchester at u.k. ordered -- said in order to power that, the computer would take an airplane hangar, that's how much power they would need to do that. >> ifill: the practical application is what? >> one idea is faster, better research for cures for disease, and a number of these things are decades away, might be helping
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short-term or long-term memory lapses? >> ifill: what did you say? i'm sorry. i forgot what you said. >> you had a youthful moment (laughter) >> ifill: let's talk about a battery powered by saltwater. >> everything is eco-friendly. not just whole foods. the idea is more we start tapping sun and wind power, whether panels on people's homes and all sorts of other things, it's great when the sun is out but when does the sun go down? how do you store the energy and use it? lots of folks have been using batteries, not the kind that go in the car or the computer, a battery that might be in your home. you have to like this carnegie mellon professor who said there is a better way forward, can't we create a battery powered from sun and wind that's not toxic
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but is more eco-friendly? he wanted to prove so it was eco-friendly and can use saltwater that he actually bit into one. >> ifill: you're kidding. he's really not going to eat it, but he's proving it is safer than the toxic battery you're used to thinking about. >> ifill: what would you use them for? >> for everything. let's say you put solar panels on the house, generating lot of energy in the day but you want to use some at night, the batteries may allow you to store it and use it at night instead of the electric grid. >> ifill: let's talk about another piece of this, which is a new venue creating an old arc, which is youtube. who is this? >> this is kevin qua from canada, a 33-year-old principal dancer at the national ballet of canada. he's ushered in anaera of ballet on the web, and i know you're
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thinking isn't everything with web? >> ifill: yes. to some extent it's been. he did something special. he began to create these two-minute gorgeous films of ballet and really brought in not maybe 100 or 200 people -- >> ifill: and a gorgeous film and family, which is part of the reason people are watching. >> he said the honest truth is i'm dancing naked, right? the truth of the matter is here's a fit athlete who, for two minutes in slow motion with really clear facial expressions you wouldn't normally get at the ballet, so he's bringing in millions of new fans who, as he said himself, despite the fact he was one of the world's best dancers, no one knew him very well. >> ifill: is there an economic model to support reaching new audiences this way? >> not yet. and that reason because making some of these, even though they're two minutes long, he'll sometimes spend $25,000, $50,000
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doing them. he's hoping there's a way forward from this kick start campaign. an idea is the big ballet companies creating these films as way to get ken and carlos to go to the ballet and draw the nicer tickets. maybe there's a way that way. >> ifill: brain, batteries and dance all in one place. thank you very much carlos watson. >> always good to be here. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, it's back to school time, and college students face that age-old problem of picking a major. on "making sense," we share an argument for choosing a student's passion over practicality, especially when unique majors can offer college grads a new way of thinking about the world. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour.
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and that's the newshour for tonight. tomorrow, how one gourmet chef is cooking up a way not to waste food. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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